San Clemente Island, Underwater and Aerial Photographs and Pictures

San Clemente Island Stock Photos by Professional Photographer Phillip Colla. San Clemente Island stock photography.

Underwater and aerial photographs from San Clemente Island, California

Kelp frond showing pneumatocysts, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp frond showing pneumatocysts.

A kelp forest, with sunbeams passing through kelp fronds.  Giant kelp, the fastest growing plant on Earth, reaches from the rocky bottom to the ocean's surface like a submarine forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

A kelp forest, with sunbeams passing through kelp fronds. Giant kelp, the fastest growing plant on Earth, reaches from the rocky bottom to the ocean's surface like a submarine forest.

A SCUBA diver swims through a giant kelp forest which is tilted back by strong ocean currents.   Giant kelp, the fastest plant on Earth, reaches from the rocky bottom to the ocean's surface like a submarine forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

A SCUBA diver swims through a giant kelp forest which is tilted back by strong ocean currents. Giant kelp, the fastest plant on Earth, reaches from the rocky bottom to the ocean's surface like a submarine forest.

San Clemente Island Pyramid Head, the distinctive pyramid shaped southern end of the island.  San Clemente Island Pyramid Head, showing geologic terracing, underwater reefs and giant kelp forests

San Clemente Island Pyramid Head, the distinctive pyramid shaped southern end of the island. San Clemente Island Pyramid Head, showing geologic terracing, underwater reefs and giant kelp forests.

Bryozoan grows on a red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Bryozoan grows on a red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

California sea lions swim and socialize over a kelp-covered rocky reef, underwater at San Clemente Island in California's southern Channel Islands, Zalophus californianus

California sea lions swim and socialize over a kelp-covered rocky reef, underwater at San Clemente Island in California's southern Channel Islands.

A SCUBA diver swimming over a rocky reef covered with kelp, watches a brightly colored orange garibaldi fish, Hypsypops rubicundus, San Clemente Island

A SCUBA diver swimming over a rocky reef covered with kelp, watches a brightly colored orange garibaldi fish.

Surf grass on the rocky reef -- appearing blurred in this time exposure -- is tossed back and forth by powerful ocean waves passing by above.  San Clemente Island, Phyllospadix

Surf grass on the rocky reef -- appearing blurred in this time exposure -- is tossed back and forth by powerful ocean waves passing by above. San Clemente Island.

Sunrise at San Clemente Island, south end showing China Hat (Balanced Rock) and Pyramid Head, near Pyramid Cove, storm clouds. Panoramic photo

Sunrise at San Clemente Island, south end showing China Hat (Balanced Rock) and Pyramid Head, near Pyramid Cove, storm clouds. Panoramic photo.

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

Garibaldi swims in the kelp forest, sunlight filters through towering giant kelp plants rising from the ocean bottom to the surface, underwater, Hypsypops rubicundus, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi swims in the kelp forest, sunlight filters through towering giant kelp plants rising from the ocean bottom to the surface, underwater.

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts.  Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest.  Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions.  Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands.

Stephanocystis dioica kelp algae on a shallow rocky reef, reflected underneath the surface of the ocean, Stephanocystis dioica, San Clemente Island

Stephanocystis dioica kelp algae on a shallow rocky reef, reflected underneath the surface of the ocean.

Garibaldi and California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Hypsypops rubicundus, Muricea californica

Garibaldi and California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

Garibaldi and red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Hypsypops rubicundus, Leptogorgia chilensischilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi and red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, San Clemente Island, Muricea californica

California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, San Clemente Island.

California Golden gorgonian polyps.  The golden gorgonian is a colonial organism composed of thousands of tiny polyps. Each polyp secretes calcium which accumulates to form the structure of the colony. The fan-shaped gorgonian is oriented perpendicular to prevailing ocean currents to better enable to filter-feeding polyps to capture passing plankton and detritus passing by, Muricea californica, San Clemente Island

California Golden gorgonian polyps. The golden gorgonian is a colonial organism composed of thousands of tiny polyps. Each polyp secretes calcium which accumulates to form the structure of the colony. The fan-shaped gorgonian is oriented perpendicular to prevailing ocean currents to better enable to filter-feeding polyps to capture passing plankton and detritus passing by.

Garibaldi in kelp forest, Hypsypops rubicundus, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi in kelp forest.

Giant kelp, blades, stipes and pneumatocysts, backlit by the sun in shallow water, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Giant kelp, blades, stipes and pneumatocysts, backlit by the sun in shallow water.

A leopard shark, swimming through the shallows waters of a California reef, underwater, Cystoseira osmundacea marine algae growing on rocky reef, Cystoseira osmundacea, Triakis semifasciata, San Clemente Island

A leopard shark, swimming through the shallows waters of a California reef, underwater, Cystoseira osmundacea marine algae growing on rocky reef.

Boat Horizon above kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Boat Horizon above kelp forest.

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

Surfgrass (Phyllospadix), moving with waves in shallow water, San Clemente Island, Phyllospadix

Surfgrass (Phyllospadix), moving with waves in shallow water, San Clemente Island.

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands.

Red gorgonian and California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest, San Clemente Island. Gorgonians are filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, San Clemente Island. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis

Red gorgonian and California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest, San Clemente Island. Gorgonians are filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, San Clemente Island. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands.

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands.

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands.

The Kelp Forest of San Clemente Island, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera

The Kelp Forest of San Clemente Island, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found throughout California's Southern Channel Islands.

Garibaldi swimming through southern sea palm, San Clemente Island, Eisenia arborea, Hypsypops rubicundus

Garibaldi swimming through southern sea palm, San Clemente Island.

California golden gorgonian, Garibaldi and Sheephead wrasse fishes on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Hypsypops rubicundus, Muricea californica, Semicossyphus pulcher, San Clemente Island

California golden gorgonian, Garibaldi and Sheephead wrasse fishes on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

Stephanocystis dioica (yellow) and surfgrass (green), shallow water, San Clemente Island, Phyllospadix, Stephanocystis dioica

Stephanocystis dioica (yellow) and surfgrass (green), shallow water, San Clemente Island.

California golden gorgonian and small juvenile sheephead fishes on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep.  Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Muricea californica, Semicossyphus pulcher, San Clemente Island

California golden gorgonian and small juvenile sheephead fishes on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

Giant kelp plants lean over in ocean currents, underwater.  Individual kelp plants grow from the rocky reef, to which they are attached, up to the ocean surface and form a vibrant community in which fishes, mammals and invertebrates thrive, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Giant kelp plants lean over in ocean currents, underwater. Individual kelp plants grow from the rocky reef, to which they are attached, up to the ocean surface and form a vibrant community in which fishes, mammals and invertebrates thrive.

A kelp forest.  Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy.  Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest.  Lush forests of kelp are found through California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found through California's Southern Channel Islands.

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

A view of an underwater forest of giant kelp.  Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy.  Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest.  Lush forests of kelp are found through California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

A view of an underwater forest of giant kelp. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found through California's Southern Channel Islands.

Kelp beds adorn the coastline of San Clemente Island, aerial photograph, Macrocystis pyrifera

Kelp beds adorn the coastline of San Clemente Island, aerial photograph.

Jack mackerel and kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, Trachurus symmetricus, San Clemente Island

Jack mackerel and kelp.

Kelp canopy, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp canopy.

Garibaldi, Hypsypops rubicundus, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi.

Jack mackerel schooling in kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, Trachurus symmetricus, San Clemente Island

Jack mackerel schooling in kelp.

California sea lion, Zalophus californianus, San Clemente Island

California sea lion.

Divers and kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Divers and kelp forest.

Diver amid kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Diver amid kelp forest.

Kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp forest.

Garibaldi swimming over surfgrass in kelp forest, Hypsypops rubicundus, Macrocystis pyrifera, Phyllospadix, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi swimming over surfgrass in kelp forest.

Diver in kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Diver in kelp.

Diver and red gorgonian, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Diver and red gorgonian.

California Golden gorgonian in kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, Muricea californica, San Clemente Island

California Golden gorgonian in kelp forest.

Red gorgonian, polyp detail, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Red gorgonian, polyp detail.

Kelp fronds grow upward from the reef below to reach the ocean surface and spread out to form a living canopy, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp fronds grow upward from the reef below to reach the ocean surface and spread out to form a living canopy.

A freediving spearfisherman glides quietly through the kelp forest in search of game fish to hunt.  The most skilled spearfishermen forego the use of SCUBA, which is noisy underwater and scares away fish.  Instead, they practice breathhold techniques to move silently through the water.  San Clemente Island

A freediving spearfisherman glides quietly through the kelp forest in search of game fish to hunt. The most skilled spearfishermen forego the use of SCUBA, which is noisy underwater and scares away fish. Instead, they practice breathhold techniques to move silently through the water. San Clemente Island.

San Clemente Island, aerial photo, steep cliffs and mountainous terrain on the south eastern shore of the island

San Clemente Island, aerial photo, steep cliffs and mountainous terrain on the south eastern shore of the island.

Ghost lobster trap, abandoned lobster trap, San Clemente Island

Ghost lobster trap, abandoned lobster trap, San Clemente Island.

Fish hiding in invasive sargassum, Sargassum horneri, San Clemente Island, Sargassum horneri

Fish hiding in invasive sargassum, Sargassum horneri, San Clemente Island.

Blacksmith Chromis and California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Chromis punctipinnis, Muricea californica

Blacksmith Chromis and California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

California golden gorgonian and small juvenile sheephead fishes on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Semicossyphus pulcher, San Clemente Island

California golden gorgonian and small juvenile sheephead fishes on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

Southern sea palm, palm kelp, underwater, San Clemente Island, Eisenia arborea

Southern sea palm, palm kelp, underwater, San Clemente Island.

Asparagopsis taxiformis, red marine algae, growing on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest at San Clemente Island, Asparagopsis taxiformis

Asparagopsis taxiformis, red marine algae, growing on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest at San Clemente Island.

Southern sea palm (yellow) and surf grass (green), shallow water, San Clemente Island, Eisenia arborea, Phyllospadix

Southern sea palm (yellow) and surf grass (green), shallow water, San Clemente Island.

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, San Clemente Island

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands.

Surfgrass (Phyllospadix), shallow water, San Clemente Island, Phyllospadix

Surfgrass (Phyllospadix), shallow water, San Clemente Island.

A kelp forest.  Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy.  Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest.  Lush forests of kelp are found through California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found through California's Southern Channel Islands.

California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Muricea californica

California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

San Clemente Island geological terracing, caused by uplifting over millenia.  The stair-step landscape of uplifted marine terraces on the southern end of San Clemente Island

San Clemente Island geological terracing, caused by uplifting over millenia. The stair-step landscape of uplifted marine terraces on the southern end of San Clemente Island.

California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Muricea californica

California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

Southern sea palm, palm kelp, underwater, San Clemente Island, Eisenia arborea

Southern sea palm, palm kelp, underwater, San Clemente Island.

Garibaldi and various marine algae, San Clemente Island, Hypsypops rubicundus

Garibaldi and various marine algae, San Clemente Island.

Red gorgonian (left) and California golden gorgonian (right) on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  Gorgonians are filter-feeding temperate colonial species that live on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep.  Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Red gorgonian (left) and California golden gorgonian (right) on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. Gorgonians are filter-feeding temperate colonial species that live on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

A giant kelpfish swims over Southern sea palms and a kelp-covered reef, mimicing the color and pattern of the kelp leaves perfectly, camoflage, Heterostichus rostratus, San Clemente Island

A giant kelpfish swims over Southern sea palms and a kelp-covered reef, mimicing the color and pattern of the kelp leaves perfectly, camoflage.

Feather boa kelp (long brown fuzzy stuff) and other marine algae cover the rocky reef, Egregia menziesii, San Clemente Island

Feather boa kelp (long brown fuzzy stuff) and other marine algae cover the rocky reef.

California bat ray, laying on sandy ocean bottom amid kelp and rocky reef, Myliobatis californica, San Clemente Island

California bat ray, laying on sandy ocean bottom amid kelp and rocky reef.

Red gorgonians and California golden gorgonians on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Chromis punctipinnis, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, Muricea californica, San Clemente Island

Red gorgonians and California golden gorgonians on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by.

China Hat Point, San Clemente Island, sunrise

China Hat Point, San Clemente Island, sunrise.

Panoramic photo of San Clemente Island, southern end from China Hat Point (aka, Balanced Rock, right) along the length of Pyramid Cove, sunrise

Panoramic photo of San Clemente Island, southern end from China Hat Point (aka, Balanced Rock, right) along the length of Pyramid Cove, sunrise.

Giant kelpfish in kelp, Heterostichus rostratus, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Giant kelpfish in kelp.